Metro Briefs October 28

Metro Briefs October 28

The Western Pennsylvania Auxiliary for Exceptional People will hold a luncheon for adults with special needs and the volunteers who help them on Monday, Oct. 31 at noon at Congregation Beth Shalom. Volunteers, including Art Spiegel and Rabbi Eli Seidman, organize the luncheon, one of several held yearly to celebrate Jewish holidays. Volunteers visit these adults once a month at institutions such as the Allegheny Valley School, a residential therapy program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the Verland Foundation.

Founded by Rabbi Leib and Pearl Heber in the late 1970s, the Western Pennsylvania Auxiliary for Exceptional People began by delivering homemade kosher sandwiches to Jews living in nine different institutions around western Pennsylvania. At its peak, in the 1980s, about 400 special needs Jews, who would otherwise be leading a mostly secular life, were touched by the Auxiliary. Since Heber’s death in 1987, the Auxiliary has been operating on a much smaller scale.

The celebrations are always held at Beth Shalom, which donates use of its space, Spiegel said, but the group is well-funded by private donors and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

To reach the Auxiliary with information on an exceptional person, contact Rabbi Eli Seidman at

The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh will hold a presentation and discussion on Jewish bookstores on Sunday, Oct. 30 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Cafe Eighteen, 2028 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill.

The evening will begin with a lecture by Laurence Roth about his research on the history of Jewish bookstores, “My Father’s Inventory: A History of Jewish Bookstores on the Lower East Side.” Following the lecture, Roth and Shlomo Perelman, owner of Pinsker’s, will participate in a discussion on the “Past, Present and Future of Jewish Bookstores,” moderated by Adam Shear, director of Jewish studies at the University of Pittsburgh and a historian of Jewish book culture.

Roth is a professor of English and Jewish studies at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., where he directs the Jewish and Israel Studies Program and is also co-chair of the department of English and Creative Writing. He is the author of “Inspecting Jews: American Jewish Detective Stories” and co-editor of “The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures.”

One focal point will be on the other side of the country in the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles. Roth’s father was the owner of J. Roth’s, Los Angeles’ largest Jewish bookstore for many years, and he is currently writing a combination of memoir and scholarly study tentatively titled “Unpacking My Father’s Bookstore: Collection, Commerce, Literature.” Perelman will also share his memories of J. Roth’s from his time living in Los Angeles.

Roth’s visit is made possible by the Giant Eagle Foundation Endowment for Community Outreach in the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. It is also a follow-up to the Squirrel Hill Project, sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program in 2012-2013, which was a yearlong exploration of the history of Squirrel Hill in the context of Pittsburgh Jewish history, American Jewish history and urban history.

The community is invited to this free event, but reservations are recommended. Light kosher refreshments will be provided free of charge. Wine will be available for purchase.

Contact for more information and reservations.

The second concert in the Music at Rodef Shalom Series is the Zorá String Quartet. As a result of winning the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2015, the Quartet has recently toured the Midwest and appeared at the Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy.

The concert will be held on Monday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. in Levy Hall at Rodef Shalom Congregation. There is no charge. A reception follows the performance to provide an opportunity to meet and converse with the musicians. Refreshments will be served and the Temple Gift Shop will be open.

The Quartet members are violinists Dechopol Kowintaweewat and Seula Lee, violist Pablo Muñoz Salido and cellist Zizai Ning. The Zorá String Quartet is part of the Indiana University, Bloomington music program. The Quartet’s pianist is Jessica Xylina Osborne.

The name Zorá means “sunrise” in Bulgarian.

Karen Levine, author of the young adult book “Hana’s Suitcase,” will make remarks and sign books on Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, 826 Hazelwood Ave. The event is free and will include a dessert reception; donations are welcome. RSVP at

Call 412-939-7288 or email Christina Sahovey at csahovey@hcpgh.orgfor more information. Accommodations are available to include differing abilities.

The Congregation Dor Hadash Shira Group led by Rabbi Doris Dyen will bring rich Yiddishkeit culture and colorful songs for all to sing on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. for a Kum-Zitz — Yiddish for sitting and singing together. Brian Primack will enrich the singing with guitar accompaniment and Miri Rabinowitz will have a power point presentation of words transliterated into English that are easy to read and fun to sing. The adult education committee, led by chair Deborah Prise, planned the event in response to the growing interest in Yiddish language and culture.

Classical Yiddish folksongs reflect our history in Eastern Europe and America and include stories of love and courtship, family conflicts, and children studying Hebrew and Yiddish.

Friends and guests are welcome. Contact or 412-422-5158 to RSVP. 

Pittsburgh’s Jewish teen youth groups will be collaborating on “Voice Your Vote,” an event open to all Jewish teens in sixth to 12th grade in Greater Pittsburgh. This event will be held on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dave & Busters in the Waterfront. Although many teenagers are not eligible to vote in this election, this is their chance to educate themselves and others on important topics while enjoying new and old friends.

The event is free with the support of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and BBYO. Register online at Dinner (kosher options available), $10 in Dave & Busters game tokens, plus a private TV screening room to eat, watch the election and enjoy election games and trivia are included with the registration.

Transportation is also included. Busses will be available from the Squirrel Hill JCC, South Hills JCC and the North Hills. Busses will return to their drop-off locations at approximately 9 p.m.

Because an hour a week can change a child’s life, the Pittsburgh OASIS Intergenerational Tutor Program is seeking volunteers (50+) to tutor kindergarten to fourth grade students in Pittsburgh and Woodland Hills school districts. A two-day training class will be conducted on Wednesday, Nov. 16 and Friday, Nov. 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 411 Seventh Ave., Suite 525 (Duquesne Light Building) in downtown Pittsburgh. No teaching experience is required and all training, materials and clearances are provided free of charge. The program is operated in partnership with Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.

Contact John D. Spehar, Pittsburgh OASIS tutoring program director at 412-393-7648 or for more information and to register.

Chabad of the South Hills will offer A Taste of Shabbat lunch for seniors on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at noon at 1701 McFarland Road. Bring along your own Shabbat memories while growing up. Enjoy hot matzah ball soup with lunch. There is a $5 suggested donation. The building is wheelchair accessible.

Call 412-278-2658 to register.